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Get Creative This World Book Day: Easy Kids’ Costumes

world book day costumes for kids
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With World Book Day coming up, it’s time to get your crafting kit ready! Here’s how to make kids’ costumes or find out where in Hong Kong to buy children’s costumes based on their favourite book characters.

If you’re an artsy mum (like me!) and want to show off your talents, there are a few days in the year when you can get creative and make some amazing costumes for your kids. World Book Day is celebrated enthusiastically by most international schools in Hong Kong and it’s rather cute to see children dressed as their favourite book characters.

I have always tried to make reading a habit in my household, especially for my daughter, Isha. Regular family nighttime reading,  borrowing books from the public library and browsing the aisles at bookstores have helped her become quite the reader! But I know that what really planted the seed when she was younger was the excitement of dressing up for World Book Day and talking about a beloved book.

Read More: Raising A Reader – How To Instil A Love Of Reading In Your Child

World Book Day Costumes For Preschoolers And Toddlers

gruffalo's child diy costume

World Book Day DIY Costume: Gruffalo or Gruffalo’s Child

This was the easiest age for me.  While she was going through her terrible twos and trying threes, it was (comparatively) easy to distract and dress her up. The one costume that I am super proud of was the Gruffalo’s Child (and, of course, the Gruffalo). This is a children’s classic that every child enjoys reading. If your child wants to dress up as the Gruffalo, here’s how to recreate this costume.

Because it sometimes get stuffy in a full-body costume, all I did was cut out a piece of brown felt as a cape, with a bit of velcro to secure it around the neck. I decided to work smart and concentrate only on the mask. I used felt in different colours (brown, orange, white and green) and stitched them on to make the Gruffalo’s features. I then used an elastic band to secure it around the head. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t have a sewing machine, use a hot glue gun instead. This is a costume that is sure to impress! I still remember a few parents from class messaging me about how creative and amazing Isha’s Gruffalo costume turned out.

Read More: Best Costume Shops In Hong Kong For The Family

Lemmings costume for world book day

World Book Day DIY Costume: Lemmings

Felt is not the only medium you can use. Fun and creative DIY costumes can be made from paper too. Isha and I worked together to complete the lemmings look for her presentation of the book Lemmings. We glued these hand puppets together and used clothes from her wardrobe, along with some eyeliner whiskers and a hair band.

For the Lemmings hand puppets, we used brown paper sandwich bags (you can also use brown envelopes) for the base. The “fur” was made with brown kraft paper (save it when it comes with online purchases – it’s very useful for crafting!) and we used thick, dark brown paper for the ears, nose and whiskers, and white paper for the eyes and teeth. Add googly eyes to complete the look!

Read More: Team Sassy Mama Picks Its Favourite Books For Kids Of All Ages

World Book Day DIY Costume: Caterpillar Or Butterfly

Another popular book with preschoolers is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. An easy way to recreate said caterpillar is to colour paper plates in two different shades of green and then staple or glue together to make a long body that covers the front of your child’s T-shirt (which should be green, obviously!). Let your child get involved in making antennae from pipe cleaners that you can fold and secure onto a hairband. You’ll also find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest.

If your child would much rather be the beautiful butterfly than the caterpillar, that’s easily achieved with a bit of glittery face paint and wearable wings. Wings are a good addition to your little one’s costume wardrobe anyway because they are versatile enough to become part of any fairy, angel or a different butterfly costume. You can buy them at any party supply, stationery or costume store in Hong Kong

Read More: Party Supplies in Hong Kong – Decorations For Birthday Celebrations

World Book Day Costume Ideas For Primary School Students

When children reach primary school in Hong Kong, they are asked to bring along and present a book that they have chosen for World Book Day to their classmates. Make sure it’s a book that your child has read and is confident talking about. Most schools encourage a “no princesses and no superheroes” policy so its not just as easy as grabbing the first thing you see in the store.

I tried to involve Isha as much as I could in making the costume. When she was a toddler, there wasn’t much she could do, but by the early years of primary school, she was actively involved in cutting, colouring and glueing – great for her fine-motor skills! As she got older, she also started using my sewing machine (under strict adult supervision, of course!) or needle and thread to sew her dress-up costumes for play dates with her friends.

Read More: Online Shopping – Top Fashion Websites With Free Delivery To Hong Kong


Cat in the hat world book day costume

World Book Day Costume: The Cat In The Hat

Though the costume pictured above is store-bought, it’s easy to create this. Dress your child up in a white shirt and black trousers and add a black coat. Then use cardboard or card stock and red ribbons to make a top hat. Finally, use eyeliner or face paint to draw on some dramatic whiskers, and you’ll have just recreated The Cat In The Hat.

world book day costumes for children harry potter and hermione granger

World Book Day Costume: Harry Potter & Hermione Granger

As Isha grew older, her choice of books changed and for the longest time, she was obsessed with the Harry Potter series. I don’t think there is a kid in Hong Kong who hasn’t dressed up as a Harry Potter character at some point! The costumes are easily available at Pottinger Street and Li Yuen Street. Add to the dramatic effect by drawing on a lightning scar on your young wizard.

Read More: Kids’ Formal Dressing In Hong Kong – Flower Girl Dresses, Tuxedos And More

Dog man costume for world book day

World Book Day Costume: Dog Man

Want a quick-fix World Book Day costume? Draw out your child’s favourite comic book character on thick paper or cardboard and cut it out to use as a masquerade mask. If you pick one of the characters from any of Dav Pilkey’s very popular series, Dog Man or Captain Underpants, this will be an easy-peasy “costume” to make and is sure to be a hit!

Read More: Top Children’s Books By Age, from 4 To 14+

world book day costumes

Where To Buy World Book Day Costumes Online Or In Hong Kong Kong

It might be worth spending a bit of extra money on accessories and extras to make sure the costume gets the seal of approval from your older primary schooler (and make sure to reuse the costumes for Halloween!). You can order online or pre-order from party stores like Matteo Party. They have a huge selection of costumes available, ranging from Dr. Seuss characters to children’s classics such as Alice in Wonderland and various characters from the Harry Potter series.

If your are pressed for time, head over with your young bookworm to Pottinger Street, Central as most popular character costumes are available there, which means there are hundreds of costumes on display to choose from.

Read More: Weekend Planner – Activities And Events For Kids And Families In Hong Kong

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 by Anita Balagopalan, and recently updated by Tarana Desai Shah in April 2024.

  Main image courtesy of Sassy Media Group, images 1 and 2 courtesy of Tarana Desai-Shah, image 3 courtesy of via Instagram, image 4 courtesy of Maura Thompson, image 5 courtesy of Emilie de Cannart, image 6 courtesy of via Instagram,

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